What’s Your Big Idea?…an Elevator Competition

Have you ever had that “sudden idea” you never told anyone about? You know, the idea to launch a business, build a better mousetrap, or make the world a better place? Well, here’s your chance.

What’s an elevator competition? The average ride on an elevator is less than 3 minutes. You really don’t have a Big Idea if you can’t make your “pitch” to an investor in that amount of time. Set in an imaginary elevator, contestants have exactly 3 minutes to “pitch” their idea to investors, who are along for the ride.

How to compete:

The competition is open to any Culver student.. To enter, a student must submit a blind copy of their brainstorm. There may be only one entry per student. The submission must describe the idea in no more than 150 words. An “honors” box must be checked, indicating the submission is entirely the work of the applicant.

A few examples might be –

  • an idea likely to be developed into a product or service.
  • an idea likely to be developed into a company, generating profits and new jobs.
  • an idea likely to result in a viable service organization or social venture.
  • an idea that creatively addresses a problem.

A submission, either hard copy or electronic, must be typed, 12pt. font, double spaced. Submissions must be delivered/sent to Mr. Kurrelmeier.  The submission deadline is TBA.

Submissions will be evaluated, and the 8 finalists at each school selected. The following criteria will be used: a) creativity and originality; b) clarity of expression; and c) practicality.

Eight contestants will be selected to make their “pitch” in front of two professional entrepreneurs, who will serve as judges. The judges’ evaluation rubric will be provided each school prior to the first round.  The competition date will be TBA.

The winner will earn $500.00; the first runner up will earn $100.00; and the second runner up will receive a $50.00 gift certificate from Barnes & Noble.

2015 Winners


Big Idea winner Phillip Yang 2017 (center) with judges Leanne Hoagland and Joe McInerney.

2014 Winners

Mitchell Kokko (CC) was the winner and introduced “Internships4All”, an online service connecting students with employers and internships. Yen Yen Gao (GL) was first runner-up and introduced “TrueHeat,” thermochromatic technology and clothing. Judges were Ms. Sue McInturff, founder of DIVA, and Mr. Ryan McKeever, founder of Plotline.

2013 Winners


2012 Winners

Left to right, in the elevator, are: Eugenio Segura – Jr., BA, Cancun, Mexico ($250.00); Hong Nguyen – So., GC, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam (Apple IPad II); and Jordan Berger – Jr., GI, Fort Wayne, IN ($500.00).

Austin Welch – Traffic Stop

Austin won 1st place in the 2011 "Elevator Competition" in which he had 3 minutes to pitch his business idea.

Riley Scott – “Our Little Heros”

Riley won 2nd place when she pitched her idea for a website that helps kids with cancer.